187 posts categorized

November 18, 2015

Lifesaving Mobile Tech Gets Support from Verizon



If there’s on thing most smartphone users don’t expect from their phones, it’s the potential to save lives. But thanks to Verizon, startups focused on lifesaving technologies are getting the opportunity to share their initiatives and compete for a chance to win funding. In fact, 12 startups have already been crowned winners at Verizon’s annual Powerful Answers contest, with specific prize money to be announced Dec. 9 in San Francisco. 

In total contestants stand to win a total of $6 million to bring their lifesaving apps and technologies to life. Fourteen hundred people entered this year, and of the twelve finalists, three are women-led ventures. Here’s more info on a few of the finalists that have a shot at winning this year’s grand prize: 


Drone Lifeguard

That’s right, folks—lifesaving AUVs (unnamed aerial vehicle) anywhere, anytime.  The ‘lifeguard as a service’ model introduced by founder and CEO R.J. Tang is a unique concept for one of the world’s leading causes of unintentional death. Tang and his team are using drones to safely, and more quickly, deploy inflatable life preserves to swimmers who may be drowning. 


Disaster Mesh 

Disaster Mesh helps people affected by a disaster reconnect to vital digital communications. Using small devices shaped like maple seeds, the ‘Mesh’ is literally thrown from the sky and intended to cover a large area with network nodes. Survivors then connect to the network, which delivers simple survival options like “I’m trapped,” “I need medical help,” or “I’m okay, continue to network.” 



This ride-sharing app is all about the family—kids especially. Built for parents, by parents, Pogo connects busy family members with community friends who can provide a trusted ride for children. Users can create private groups as well as run background and DMV checks on members. 



Swiftmile is on a mission to reduce the number of cars on the road, particularly those making short commutes to work. With the Swiftmile Swiftstation, users can enjoy secure, emission free, and economical transportation. The Personal Electronic Transporter (PET) sharing system is designed to help cities, corporations, universities, and other highly congested areas decreases emissions as well as reduce the number of cars on the road. 



Speaking of auto accidents, motorcyclists are often the most at risk when forced to share the road with traditional automobiles. Ganindu Nanayakkara is a software engineer dedicated to ending avoidable motorcycle accidents. The iHelmet was designed to bring safety features for motorcycles into the 21st century at an affordable price. Nanayakkara’s model includes features like blind-spot assist, high-speed alerts, and automated SOS in case of an accident. 

Some of the finalist may save lives through abstract means, while others have the potential to impart significant lifesaving technologies almost immediately. Either way, the startups in Verizon’s contest offer an inspiring use of technology and innovation. 


November 14, 2015

What Are 'Mobile Moments' and How Can They Help My Mobile Marketing Strategy?



Christmas shopping used to be a hectic business. Typically, a day or two was set aside sometime in between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve - depending on how organized you were - in order to head to the mall and fight the crowds for the ever-dwindling supply of gifts. 

In the age of the smartphone, everything has changed. From browsing to buying, every stage of a transaction can now be performed on a mobile device. According to recent Google research, 54% of holiday shoppers will use their smartphones to shop throughout the season, and smartphone-based commerce has gone up by 64% over the last year. In fact, almost a third of all online purchases now happen on mobile phones.

So how can your mobile marketing strategy benefit from this continuing trend towards smartphone commerce? The key is understanding how people use their devices. 

A recent study claimed that people use their smartphones as many as 150 times in a single day, spending around a minute on each ‘session.’ A rounded mobile marketing campaign will tackle each and every kind of activity: text messages, emails, social media and web searches. Because each session is typically so brief, the trick is capitalize on these ‘mobile moments.’ 

Mobile moments - or micro moments - are those brief snatches of time when people turn to their smartphone in order to take a specific action, like finding the answer to a question, booking a plane ticket, downloading an app or buying something online. Mobile users approaching these moments have an express, immediate intent. That intent may be to buy. It may be to browse, or compare user reviews. But whatever the reason shoppers turn to their phones, your business should take the opportunity to be there - and be useful. Here’s how:


Comprehensive Online Listings

Google’s research shows consumers are 38% more likely to visit and 29% more likely to buy from companies whose online directory listings are complete, up-to-date, and accurate. Further, you should regularly update the listings with seasonal info and include images and business hours. The more information you can parlay in your listings, the better.


Predict Expectations

The digital marketplace is a diffuse, niche-led realm, and users will respond to a wide variety of different messages. The key to a successful mobile marketing plan is recognizing which message will have the most impact on which user. For text message sign ups, location-based notifications are a solid way of reaching potential customers at the moment they’re most likely to buy. Throw in a discount, and suddenly you have a customer with two compelling reasons to visit your outlet: 1)they’ll save money, and 2) they’re within walking distance. 


Take Advantage of the Holiday Season

Many retailers live and die by Q4, when the annual spending bonanza kicks in, with more people buying more stuff than at any other time of year. That’s why now - before Thanksgiving - is the perfect time to implement changes to your mobile marketing strategy. Invest in a mobile friendly website and start promoting festive deals so you can hit the New Year with a running start.

November 13, 2015

Mobile Marketing Trends in Southeast Asia



Is Vietnam the “land of opportunity” for mobile marketers? It appears so. Apple’s iOS9 was released this past September, resulting in worldwide ad-blocking conversations—but not in the Southeast Asian country. Why? Mobile marketing is “still being defined” in Vietnam, among other reasons. 

According to a recent study by Opera Mediaworks, Android ranks supreme in Vietnam. Vikas Gulati, Opera Mediaworks’ marketing director for Asia, says this is due to ad-blocking “never taking off” the way it did in the rest of Asia and most other parts of the world. 

"Android’s default browser, Chrome, does not accept ad blocking plug-ins like what Safari is able to do now," Gulati noted. "On mobile devices, content is mostly consumed within apps compared to mobile browsers. Apple’s ad-blocking feature only covers ad blocking on its own mobile browser, Safari."

Ad-blocking app downloads didn’t gain much popularity among iOS users in Vietnam, Indonesia, and Thailand, even when Apple was touting its ad-blocking options heavily. Experts say it’s not a huge concern among the Vietnamese; rather it’s limited to “tech-savvy users” only. However, some sites, such as popular Vietnamese movie sites and already feature ad-blocking detectors. These sites are encouraging users to disable ad blockers before they watch a video or continue to browse. 

Gulati has also noticed a shift in Vietnam from banner and traditional pop-up ads to sponsored content, native advertising, and in-feed video ads.

"Advertisers and publishers are looking to offer more seamless experiences for their users," said Gulati. "They’re looking at rich media, videos, and more targeted and relevant ads. All these changes are happening right now, and the industry is working together to find the balance between monetization and user experience."


What the Study Said

A joint study by Epinion and OMD found that while the potential for mobile marketing in Vietnam is significant, mobile marketing practices “have a long way to go.” For example, most Vietnamese marketers use SMS to engage with their target audiences. The study also found that only 25 percent of Vietnamese smartphone owners purposely clicked on “interesting” mobile ads compared to some 40 percent of smartphone owners in the rest of Southeast Asia. 

Limited ad viewability standards in Vietnam, coupled with the “desire to reach the masses,” has resulted in a need for more mobile ads, according to Alan Cerruti, CEO and co-founder of Happiness Saigon. 

"CPC and CPM or even CPD [cost-per-duration] are largely popular metrics from media agencies," he said. "These are seen as tangible KPIs, and so brands and clients will continue to agree for ads to pop everywhere and anywhere either as mass or as targeted buys. Hence, the demand for mobile display and mobile video ads is huge right now, because that's where Vietnamese consumers are spending their time."

Whatever else, mobile video is “exploding,” according to Fetch founder James Connelly, and marketers need to take advantage of it sooner rather than later. 

“Marketers need to become more conscious of creating the right type of video content useful for a mobile device,” he said in a recent interview. “The 30-second TV ad doesn’t translate well when most ads are being played without sound and in portrait.” 

November 04, 2015

Can Smartphones Help Manage Bipolar Disorder?


Bipolar disorder is a condition characterized by mood swings that vary from extreme elation to severe depression. Patients suffering from this mental illness experience extreme highs and hyperactivity, and at other times suffer devastating lows and lethargy. Because symptoms of most mental disorders can only be seen as changes in a person’s behavior, rather than a chemical or biological change, treating these mood changes can be extremely difficult. But recent studies indicate that phone apps may be able to help people with bipolar disorder manage their conditions so that they can live more productive lives.



Italian researchers have found that smartphones can be used to diagnose and manage mental health illnesses such as bipolar disorder. Thanks to their built-in sensors, sudden mood changes can be tracked easily. Just recently, computer scientist Venet Osmani of the Trento, Italy-based Centre for Research and Telecommunication Experimentation for Networked Communities (CREATE-NET) used data mining to study human behavior and health. He knew that people with bipolar disorder often demonstrated signature behavior patterns and used smartphones to measure these patterns. According to Osmani, the behavior patterns associated with bipolar disorder can be accurately detected by smartphone sensors, which allow changes in mood to be spotted as they occur. This is amazing news for patients, as it could lead to faster treatment and better outcomes for sufferers.


How the Smartphone App Works

How will the smartphone app work? The bipolar manic phase is often characterized by physical hyperactivity, which can be measured by an accelerometer and a GPS; symptoms like rapid speech could be measured by sound analysis software, and frequent conversations monitored through phone call patterns. Similarly, slow movements, fewer locations travelled, sluggish speech, and fewer conversations with others can be signs of the depressive phase. The app includes GPS information to localize the user in case of a manic crisis, and it can be used either as part of a treatment with a therapist or as a standalone app. There are currently a number of different apps on the market being used to detect mental and physical ailments as they occur. This is just the beginning of how innovation is changing medicine.



All of this is good news for bipolar sufferers. Patients with bipolar disorder are more susceptible to stress events or changes in their routine. With a smartphone app, the possibility of early detection in a patient’s state could mean facilitating timely intervention and getting him or her the best treatment possible. 

For the most party, treating bipolar illness comes after the fact. Patients are usually given questionnaires after an episode has already occurred. An accurate way of diagnosing mood changes in real-time would be hugely useful, both for patients and their health providers to predict oncoming symptoms. 

With technology continuing to change, and innovation creating better and faster ways to communicate, many of today’s health problems might soon be more easily detected. 


Written by Jeremy Pollack


October 28, 2015

Mobile Tech as CPR Guide


It’s always nice to see technology working for the greater good and not merely motivated by profit. Some apps, like PulsePoint, aren’t working for profit at all—they’re in the business of saving lives. The non-profit app has been endorsed by a number of agencies including the American Heart Association and the Red Cross for delivering updated CPR guidelines and empowering the public to become more than bystanders at the scene of an emergency.  

Did you know that almost sixty perfect of US adults have had training to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) or use an automated external defibrillator (AED)? What’s more, these trained individuals would be willing to put their skills to good use in the event of an emergency. However, it’s been estimated that only 11 percent of these people ever use their training. 

These numbers have become a viable resource in the fight against heart diseases and the struggle to protect patients who succumb to cardiac arrest. Using mobile technology, PulsePoint has modernized the CPR guidelines while finding a way to tap into this trained population. 

In the event that someone goes into cardiac arrest, the time it takes the EMS team or paramedics to arrive can greatly impact that person’s chance of resuscitation. Starting CPR quickly can double and sometimes triple the rate of survival. Now, imagine a well-trained and mobilized populace that could provide assistance during this critical window.


How the App Works 

That’s where PulsePoint comes in. Individuals trained in CPR, or the use of an AED, register with the app and are notified if they’re ever in the proximity of someone experiencing cardiac arrest. The app is also equipped to notify the trained individual where they may locate the nearest public AED. 

Once the EMS workers arrives, they’ll take over—but until then, having help there a few moments sooner could be the difference between life and death. As soon as someone calls 9-1-1 with a cardiac arrest emergency, the app alerts anyone nearby that has installed PulsePoint and is trained in CPR.

The app is already working in cities both big and small, including places like Cleveland and Fargo, North Dakota.

One of the most interesting features of this app is that it has a lot of crossover potential into other areas of public health, education, and security. Depending on how well the app does in assisting with cases of cardiac arrest, we might see variations of this software developed for other civil service functions.  

October 27, 2015

Messaging App Line Has Added Encryption


Messaging App Line will now allow end-to-end messaging encryption. If you are not familiar with Japan-based Line, it is an alternative messaging system that provides free voice calls and text messages to users. A group chat function is available, as is a simple social networking app. Line works similar to iMessage and WhatsApp, and is said to have over 300 million world-wide users, most in Japan and in Southeast Asian countries like Thailand and Indonesia.


Encryption Key 

This new encryption addition will allow Line to compete with other apps by letting users do an end-run around wireless carriers. This feature is called Letter Sealing, and will store the encryption key on the customer’s device instead of on its server. For Line, this means updating their security system, creating even a more secure method of communication. This will give their customers the ability to chat and share content without the fear of private information being disclosed in the server or to a third party. The new encryption scrambles chat content with a key, making it technically impossible to disclose content.



What are users most excited about? Line integrates an overwhelming amount of cuteness into the app. Users can slap stickers and emoji’s into their messages, often in the form of playful, cartoon baby animals. Ducks, bears, and other fun characters are what makes this app most popular. A game involving candy and animal heads is also built into the service.



The new Line encryption feature will first rollout to Android and ioS users. Users will have to switch on encryption, and will only work if it is activated and present on all involved parties device. The new encryption is currently only default for Android registered users but Line plans to add encrypted sealing for desktop and other operating systems. The Line App is also available for BlackBerry, Windows Phone, Firefox OS, Windows and Mac OS. 


Some Concerns 

This new encryption feature could be frustrating for those who want access to user content. Privacy is a big concern, with the Thai government recently announcing that it was able to monitor messages sent by its users. Line denied it to TechCrunch, but it doesn't mean the Thai government wasn't pressing for access to Thai people's private lives. It started requesting access to chat streams in 2013, according to the Associated Press.


Line Growth

Regardless of privacy concerns, Line is expanding outside Japan, where 80 percent of its registered users reside, and is currently focused on markets in India, Turkey, and Western Europe. The App is free to download, as Line makes most of its money from licensed characters like Hello Kitty. Line has also recently begun expanding into additional apps, including both drawing and a calendar.

October 19, 2015

Apple Acquires AI Startup Perceptio


Science fiction is appealing to many people because it tends to blur the lines between reality and the seemingly impossible. Yet, time and again, sci-fi has proven on a number of occasions to be within our reach. Ideas like space travel and super computers were once a glimmer of someone’s imagination, inspiring a new generation to implement those fantasies in modern technological endeavors. 

Apple kept the sci-fi ball rolling this week by announcing its purchase of a software company that deals in artificial intelligence. Is this just another page from science fiction, or is it soon to be a reality for Apple users the world over?



It’s a real Cinderella story for AI startup Perceptio, which was purchased by Apple for an undisclosed sum. According to Apple, it was a business-as-usual kind of acquisition. 

“Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time,” said Apple spokesperson Colin Johnson, “and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.”

The mystery as to why Apple has added Perceptio to its portfolio of smaller tech companies is somewhat unclear, although many speculate that the startup’s intellectual property and executive talent will help give other Apple companies superior AI systems for an array of Apple products: iPhone, iPad, and so on.  

Rumor has it that Perceptio deals in advanced calculations and algorithms without the use of a cloud-based system, which aligns with Apple’s plans to minimize user data and allow more processing on each individual device. 

This week’s acquisition follows Apple’s decision to buy a UK software startup VocallQ, which specializes in a native voice dialogue platform. It’s speculated that this tech company is working to build upon the current Siri software with hopes of improving its potential as a personal assistant and establishing longer, more intelligent conversations.  

Perceptio is a Palo Alto-based company headed by AI researchers Nicolas Pinto and Zak Stone. Prior to creating Perceptio, Pinto and Stone built an app called Smoothie that utilized many of the same AI principles and software algorithms found in Perceptio. 

The startup’s goals for Smoothie included developing techniques to run image-classification systems on smartphones; Smoothie would allow users to rework short videos into animated GIF format and use them in messages and emails. Unfortunately, none of these developments ever went to market—Smoothie has yet to be released to the general public as a social app, and depending on how things go with Apple, it might remain that way. 

Critics suggest Apple’s plan is to utilize this tech to improve its own propriety photo apps to compete more aggressively with Google’s.

For now, the fantastical idea of artificial intelligence is still somewhere on a distant horizon. However, Apple is making strides to see that future realized, perhaps sooner than some of us may have thought possible. 

October 18, 2015

Google's Latest Startup Acquisition is a Mobile Messaging App


Google recently announced the acquisition of Jibe Mobile, a messaging startup specializing in helping carriers with mobile video chat services. The idea is to make video chat as commonplace as text messages, with the purchase designed to bring Rich Communications Services (RCS) to Android products. RCS is Google’s “new standard” for carrier messaging. Financial terms regarding the acquisition were not made public. 

“We’re very excited to announce that the Jibe Mobile team is joining Google to help us bring RCS to a global audience,” Google said in a statement to Re/code. “Jibe is a leading provider of RCS services and they’ll continue helping carriers easily deploy RCS to their users. We can’t wait to work with them and build on the great work that they’ve already done.” 

The search engine giant also noted that the acquisition is part of its support of RCS and subsequently the new mobile messaging strategy.  

“Mobile messaging has never been more central to people’s lives, and there is an incredible amount of innovation happening with chat applications across the mobile ecosystem,” Mike Dodd, Android RCS Software Engineer and Minister of Messaging, wrote in an Official Android Blog post about the purchase. “SMS carrier messaging is used by billions of people every day and enables people to reach anyone around the world, regardless of their device, carrier, app or location. However, the features available in SMS haven’t kept up with modern messaging apps. Rich Communications Services (RCS) is a new standard for carrier messaging and brings many of the features that people now expect from mobile messaging, such as group chats, high res photos and more.”  

Dodd wrote that Google’s work with carriers on this project will continue, and that Android is “excited” to support RCS standards and therefore help drive consistent deployment. 

Jibe has raised over $9 million dollars while marketing itself as the “Cloud Communications Company for Mobile Operators, [which] provides an open end-to-end technology platform for IP Communications.” In 2012, Jibe raised $8.3 million through donations by MIT and Vodafone to build “carrier-quality” messaging options into apps. 

“The big opportunity we saw at the start: to change the way people communicate using their mobile phones,” Jibe CEO Amir Sarhangi said in a statement. “The ‘small’ challenge we focused on: the future of messaging, the super simple mode for communication that’s favored by billions of people, all over the world.” 


Future of Texting

Sarhangi remarked in 2012 that the days of simply calling or texting someone were coming to an end, and that most of the time people were communicating through apps. Examples of such apps include the oft-used Facebook Messenger. 

“We’re already working closely with many of our partners on implementing RCS, and look forward to growing the RCS ecosystem together,” Dodd wrote in the same blog post. 

Will video chatting become as common as text messaging? This acquisition will certainly test this notion. For now, texting and chatting remain the favorites, with chatting over Google Hangouts and the aforementioned Facebook Messenger topping the charts in popularity. 


October 08, 2015

6 Halloween Marketing Ideas for SMBs


Everyone’s favorite spook-tactular holiday is approaching, and with it comes the opportunity to drive more customers to your small business. Check out a few of the super-cool Halloween-related possibilities for small business marketing to implement while you enjoy the beautiful fall season: 


Welcome Trick-or-Treaters

Participate in a trick-or-treat event with other area businesses, or simply welcome costumed tykes into your store. Put treats that relate to your business in bags, such as candy featuring your business name, pencils, erasers, small note pads, and pencils. Kids love getting small toys in addition to candy, so feel free to be as creative as you want.


Create a Haunted House

Turn your business into a haunted attraction, and have your employees dress up as various ghosts and goblins. For example, if you have a retail business with aisles of merchandise, turn each aisle into its own special “haunt.” Encourage employees to get really creative with their costumes, which they’ll be all about if they love Halloween. Provide a discount that’s attractive to parents bringing their kids to your business, such as 10 or 15 percent off certain merchandise. Giving away coupons to customers upon their completion of a haunted house is also a fun possibility. 


Offer a Halloween Promotion

Send email coupons or codes to customers that are only good on or around Halloween. Text message codes are another possibility. Decorate your store as extensively as you want—or as much as your budget allows—to further draw people in and look for decorations in dollar and “five below” stores. Dress up in a creative costume and have employees do the same, which again they’ll likely be excited about. 


Hold a Costume Exchange

Show your dedication to the community by hosting a costume exchange. It’s not only a great way for customers and potential customers to cull and subsequently procure new costumes for cheap, but it’s also a way to familiarize locals with what you offer. Besides, people will likely jump at the chance to get rid of old masks of politicians and find something fun without spending a small fortune. Halloween costumes are expensive, after all!


Throw a Halloween Party

Make your business Halloween party central! Host an open house that allows consumers to learn more about your business while enjoying mystery punch and pumpkin-shaped sugar cookies. Designate a section for games, which will keep kiddies occupied, and offer freebies such as temporary tattoos, face painting, and of course plenty of candy. Ensure party-goers leave with goodie bags that feature more freebies and lots of information about your business, including business cards. For best results, make certain all freebies feature your business name and contact information. 

These are just some of the many ways to use Halloween to your small business’s marketing advantage. Have fun and get creative, and don’t forget to ask employees for their input and help. Most people love Halloween, and are excited to participate in anything involving the spooky holiday. Have fun! 

October 05, 2015

Mobeam Promises to Be a Comprehensive Mobile Wallet


Mobile shopping has made great strides in the last year, thanks to technology that allows smartphone users to scan in-app barcodes for food, tickets, merchandise, and more. Shopping is already convenient, but is there an even smarter way to shop? Mobeam thinks so. 

Mobeam, a mobile barcode beaming technology provider for Android, has partnered with Mobiquity Network to deliver a comprehensive mobile wallet solution. Mobiquity Network, a subsidiary of Mobiquity Technologies Inc. is a location-based advertising and app engagement software provider that should prove a useful ally for Mobeam. 

Mobeam will integrate Mobiquity Networks’ ad platform and software into its Beep’nGo app, which will enable the company to deliver highly targeted barcode-scanable offers to smartphone-holding shoppers. These shoppers can redeem target discount and coupon offers at in-store checkouts via scanable barcodes on their phones.

The partnership gives Mobeam the potential to reach 260 million monthly shoppers who already use Mobiquity’s network. Mobeam’s Beep’nGo app will now be able to detect Mobiquity Networks’ beacons, which are currently placed in high-traffic mall areas like food courts, walkways, and corridors.


Creating True Mobile Wallets

George Garrick, Mobeam’s CEO, says integrating Mobiquity Network’s ad and software technology with Mobeam's offerings creates a true mobile wallet for smartphone users. 

“Our goal is to make the shopping experience for consumers as easy as possible using mobile technology which enables true digital wallets, not simply digital credit card alternatives,” said Garrick. 

Mobeam chose to work with Mobiquity Networks because Mobiquity powers the biggest shopping mall-based beacon advertising network in the United States. Mobiquity Networks is known for providing proximity marketing in a way that enhances the user’s experience.

Garrick continues, “By joining Mobiquity Networks’ publisher network, we can improve the shopping experience even more by enabling shoppers to redeem their Mobiquity offers by simply beaming them into the checkout scanner.” He explained, “We complete the ‘last mile’ of capturing valuable targeted retail deals and enabling the shopper to easily transmit those savings into the checkout POS for an instant redemption.”


How Does It Work?

Garrick states that Mobeam “will integrate Mobiquity Networks’ software into its popular Beep’nGo app, enabling it to deliver smarter and more convenient ways to pay and save while shopping.” He adds, “Popular and emerging ‘mobile payment’ apps rely on NFC or other technologies that communicate with credit card payment terminals, but not with scanners.”

Mobeam’s barcode technology enables true mobile wallets, not just NFC-based card substitutes. This means that Beep’nGo users will now be able to carry membership cards, loyalty cards, gift cards, vouchers, coupons, tickets, and more in one app, offering universal POS access at retailers. And, they’ll get targeted discounts delivered to this app, which provides more opportunity for saving money at stores where they shop most.

The integrated technology solution will deliver highly impactful offers to users’ smartphones, at the moment they’re looking for deals.

Mobeam’s patented light-based beaming technology excels at overriding technical barriers and enables POS red laser scanners to read barcodes on Android mobile devices. Mobiquity Networks is a national leader in location-based mobile advertising and application engagement software.